Cowboys Lose a Tough One to Toledo, 34-31

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Despite taking a 14-3 lead early on, the Wyoming Cowboy football team (0-2 overall) lost a closely contested 34-31 game to the Toledo Rockets (1-1) on Saturday in Laramie.

UW tallied 526 yards of total offense in the effort, including a career-high 401 yards of total offense from sophomore quarterback Brett Smith, but couldn't put a notch in the win column.

"Certainly we have things we have to get corrected, offensively and defensively, to move forward," Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said.

Wyoming came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, driving 75 yards on four plays on the game's first possession for the score. Smith hooked up with fellow sophomore Dominic Rufran for the 33-yard TD strike, and the Pokes took an early 7-0 lead.

Each team then traded drives to no avail before Toledo scored on its second possession, knocking a 28-yard field goal through to make the score 7-3 in the first quarter.

On the ensuing Cowboy drive, the Pokes moved the ball 75 yards in 3 minutes, 43 seconds for their second touchdown of the half. Smith tossed his second touchdown of the quarter to sophomore Jalen Claiborne, for Claiborne's first career touchdown reception. The score gave the Pokes a 14-3 lead with 2:01 remaining in the first period.

The second quarter began with Toledo scoring on two drives, and the Rockets took a 17-14 lead with 2:41 to go in the half. But sophomore kicker Stuart Williams split the uprights on field-goal attempts on two straight possessions, and UW took a 20-17 lead into the locker room.

Toledo scored 10 points in the third quarter to gain a 27-20 advantage, but Wyoming struck back at the beginning of the final period as Williams cut the lead to 27-23 with 14:55 to go. The Rockets then scored on a 4-yard pass from quarterback Terrance Owens to James Green to give Toledo a 34-23 lead.

UW wasn't done, as senior wide receiver Chris McNeill tossed his second career touchdown pass to sophomore H-back Riley Lange for his first career touchdown catch.

Smith was injured three plays previous to the touchdown play. After an 11-yard rush toward the right corner of the end zone, he was knocked out of bounds and lay motionless for a time while medical personnel put him on a backboard. Prior to putting Smith in an ambulance he motioned to the crowd and his teammates, which drew applause from the Cowboy crowd. Smith was taken to Ivinson Memorial Hospital in Laramie and after the game Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen informed media that reports from team doctors were all positive, and Smith was alert and was on his feet walking. All preliminary tests administered to Smith were positive.

Smith's passing numbers prior to his departure were impressive, as he was 20-for-28 for 339 yards and two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also had 62 yards rushing.

Junior quarterback Colby Kirkegaard filled in for Smith, and he finished 1-for-3.

The McNeill TD toss made it 34-31 with 5:34 to play, but UW's final possession ended as freshman running back D.J. May came up one yard short on a fourth-down play.

UW's next game will be versus Cal Poly on Sept. 15 in Laramie. Kickoff is at 4 p.m. from War Memorial Stadium.